A large, evergreen, climbing shrub, often reaching 3-5 m high, trunk up to 10(-15) cm thick with vertically fissured corky bark when old; branches and twigs glabrous, striated, often twining at the tips. Leaves digitately compound, usually 3-5-foliolate, petiolate; petiole 4-8 cm long; leaflets usually ovate-oblong, acute to slightly acuminate, 4-10 (-12) cm long, 1.5-5 cm broad, entire with slightly revolute margins, glabrous, somewhat 3-veined at the base, paler beneath, petiolulate; petiolule of the middle leaflet longer, sometimes about as long as the blade, those of lateral leaflets shorter, (1-) 1.5-3 cm long, jointed to the petiole and somewhat swollen at base. Racemes few flowered, in axillary peduncled fascicles, about as long as the petiolules. Pedicels 6-12 mm long, straight and purplish. Flowers 10-20 mm in diam. (as long as the sepals), purplish to greenish-white, sweet-scented; female flowers slightly longer than the males. Sepals 6 in 2 whorls, 10-16 mm long, 2.5-5 mm broad, oblong or oblong-elliptic, almost equal in size. Petals 6, minute or inconspicuous, orbicular or nectariform. Stamens 6, about 2/3 as long as the sepals with filaments and anthers ± equally long, reduced to minute staminodes in female flowers. Carpels 3 (reduced to minute, inconspicuous pistillodes in male flowers), free, about half as long as the sepals, oblong, glabrous, with a sessile oblong stigma, one or each maturing into separate diverging fruits. Fruit a berry, (2-) 3-6 (-10) cm long, 2-4 cm broad, oblong or ovate-oblong with usually somewhat rounded base and apex, flesh-coloured or rosy-purple, many-seeded; seeds c. 2 mm long, almost orbicular and straight, embedded in pulp.
Fl. Per: April-June.
Type: Nepal Himalaya, Wallich Cat. no. 4950 (K-W).
Distribution: W. Pakistan, throughout Himalayas and India.
Sometimes grown as an ornamental vine, for its evergreen leaves, in cooler climates; fruits are said to be edible.
Two varieties were recognized by Hooker f. (l.c) under this species, while Parker (l.c) recorded only this species without mentioning anything about the variety angustifolia (Wall.) Hook. f & Thoms. (Holboellia angustifolia Wall., l.c), but mentioned leaflets 3-9 for this species. I have seen only 3-5 leaflets, in the specimens cited above, and the var. angustifolia with 7-9 narrow leaflets, seems to be confined to E. Himalaya and India.